In this comics-format collection of four original fairy tales, Lachenmeyer and Blocker play with universal themes of identity, truth, and joy using a distinctly droll tone. In the opening tale, “Hop Hop Wish,” a genie is summoned unintentionally by a confused frog, who has absolutely no interest in the genie’s three promised wishes, and the frog’s rejection proves unacceptable to the persistent genie. In “The Singing Rock,” a “very disagreeable witch” is determined to silence a minstrel intent on “making the world better through song” and magically transforms him from a human into a series of farm animals. No matter his form, though, the minstrel pursues his musical dream, and his dedication bests the witch, who turns him into a rock in her frustration, forgetting that “whenever a witch turns something into something else, a tiny part of that thing will always remain behind,” allowing the rock to sing on. Blocker’s illustrations enhance the absurdist nature of Lachenmeyer’s stories, and her expert control of facial expression and body language add a layer of slapstick, which heightens the collection’s comedic sensibility. Odd and engaging, these fairy tales are sure to entertain. Ages 5–9. (June)
"These wry and charming tales of the power of persistence will delight readers with lively text and expressive art. It’s a great addition to elementary and middle school graphic collections." School Library Journal
"There’s a buoyant vibrancy to Blocker’s digital art, with a bold palette and paneling that compels the story forward with energy and verve, and the draftsmanship and style recall LeUyen Pham’s work." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A cute and welcome addition to the fairy-tale genre that will have young readers laughing with delight at the misadventures of all of the charming characters." Booklist
"Blocker’s illustrations enhance the absurdist nature of Lachenmeyer’s stories, and her expert control of facial expression and body language add a layer of slapstick, which heightens the collection’s comedic sensibility.... These fairy tales are sure to entertain." Publishers Weekly
"Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists...Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of "rock" music." Kirkus
“The Singing Rock & Other Brand-New Fairy Tales makes with the magic this summer.... You can’t use adjectives like ‘brand-new’ and not deliver, so it’s a good thing writer, Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, and artist, Simini Blocker, do.... Just in time for summer, it’s a quick read but one where the fun doesn’t have to stop with the last page.” Comiccon
"This book is wonderful! I can easily say I'm ready for more another book with more stories! Yes, it's a kids' book, but if you like fairy tales, you'll enjoy the humor of these new ones, plus the lovely art!"Sequential Tart
"Simini Blocker’s witty, observant illustrations, all done in bright jewel tones, help to make this romp for readers ages 5 to 9 a droll delight." The Wall Street Journal
Gr 2–5-Lachenmeyer presents a collection of four "brand-new" fairy tales full of adventure and heart. With themes such as being a good listener, showing kindness and acceptance, and being true to oneself, these stories hearken back to the classic Aesop's fables, but Blocker's illustrations add a refreshingly colorful zest, bringing the tales squarely into the present—they can easily stand alongside contemporary graphic novels with modern, punchy color work. A diverse cast of characters clearly express emotion and movement, delicately moving across the panels in a way that harmonizes each story with the imagery. VERDICT A welcome addition to public and elementary school libraries with fans of Jennifer L. Holm's "Squish," Jarrett Krosoczka's "Lunch Lady," and Kazu Kibuishi's "Explorer."-Amy M. Laughlin, Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
The theme of persistence (for better or worse) links four tales of magic, trickery, and near disasters.
Lachenmeyer freely borrows familiar folkloric elements, subjecting them to mildly comical twists. In the nearly wordless "Hip Hop Wish," a frog inadvertently rubs a magic lamp and finds itself saddled with an importunate genie eager to shower it with inappropriate goods and riches. In the title tale, an increasingly annoyed music-hating witch transforms a persistent minstrel into a still-warbling cow, horse, sheep, goat, pig, duck, and rock in succession—then is horrified to catch herself humming a tune. Athesius the sorcerer outwits Warthius, a rival trying to steal his spells via a parrot, by casting silly ones in Ig-pay Atin-lay in the third episode, and in the finale, a painter's repeated efforts to create a flattering portrait of an ogre king nearly get him thrown into a dungeon…until he suddenly understands what an ogre's idea of "flattering" might be. The narratives, dialogue, and sound effects leave plenty of elbow room in Blocker's big, brightly colored panels for the expressive animal and human(ish) figures—most of the latter being light skinned except for the golden genie, the blue ogre, and several people of color in the "Sorcerer's New Pet."
Alert readers will find the implicit morals: know your audience, mostly, but also never underestimate the power of "rock" music. (Graphic short stories. 8-10)